Capitol Hill building’s mystery: A fake second floor


There has been much made of Barracks Row’s exploding restaurant scene colliding with entrenched wealthy rowhouse owners — who are none-too-pleased about people coming to their neighborhood for $12 hamburgers and $6 Yuenglings and subsequent vomiting and public urination. Unfortunately for them, I’m on the side of the vomiters.

Sketchy second floor. From Google Maps.

Sketchy second floor. From Google Maps.

But I am a newcomer, and surely this neighborhood has had drawn out arguments over its developmentbefore. Evidence of these disagreements is visible right next to the relatively underdeveloped area right around the Eastern Market Metro. It’s just camouflaged — the builder doesn’t want you to notice.

This strip , on D Street, SE is one of area’s healthiest retail clusters. RadioShack, FedEx Office, Hill’s Kitchen, a Realtor, salons and law offices line it, all doing seemingly brisk business. But could it have been healthier?

Maybe. See the above picture. Does something look “off” about the second floor of this building? It should. The second floor is false — a fake. There is nothing up there but air. Likely, hot air.

Despite frequenting this block, I never noticed the fake second floor until I read a comment on this Greater Greater Washington post about a development battle looming up the road on H Street NE over a new grocery. An excerpt of the comment, from urbanist Richard Layman, appears below the photo of these windows, which were intended to appear like a second-floor office, but serve only to confirm the  bizarro visions of what developers think we want our hoods to look like.

Photo by EC.

Photo by EC.

The best example may be the Kinkos across from Eastern Market Metro. Now, who in the early 2000s would say that it was dumb to build a site next to the Metro, that it was risky? Not many people. Even so, the developer refused to build a two story building. The second story is fake. This was despite all the lobbying, CHRS’s recommendation, etc.

Afterwards, the developer realized he was wrong, that there was a market for a second floor. But the way the building was constructed, creating a real second floor was not possible, because of lack of an entry point.

So the building he did around the corner, he did make the second floor “real” and monetizable.

Barracks Row: Where they protest new restaurants and build fake second floors.

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One Response to Capitol Hill building’s mystery: A fake second floor

  1. Pingback: Programming note | DC Crank Tank

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